I write this piece on the first workday of the year 2016.
As I shared with you in last week’s column, I was sick during the Christmas season. Fortunately, I recovered on New Year’s Eve and was well enough to participate in our Annual Family Goal Setting and Assessment in Phuket, Thailand.
Back at home, I savored what was left of the weekend before the first workday of the year. We heard mass together, ate lunch together and even watched #WalangForever together. When your kids are all grown up, being together as a complete family becomes more and more precious that this mother hen was having a minor withdrawal syndrome as we talked about our respective Monday schedule during dinner on Sunday. Withdrawal syndrome because for the last twelve days, all five of us had been together in one location, sharing every single meal, talking to each other, watching movies, you tube videos together. Now that’s rare and precious to a mom of grown up men, I might as well call it My Twelve Days of Christmas!
Having declared my goals for the year was also a bit overwhelming and I wanted to extend my Christmas vacation a little longer. On Monday morning, I woke up well rested but was not willing to let go of the Honey’s embrace and our white sheets yet, I wanted to linger a little longer. It was a good thing I set a Monday morning meeting so I had to force myself to get up early. I even did a bit of exercise before breakfast. I wanted to start my year right.
While waiting for the meeting to start I breathed deeply and imagined a clean white slate. Then I imagined 2016 being written on its immaculate surface.
I think it did the trick because I felt good. In my mind I cleared the clutter of worrying about the un-ticked items in my 2015 list, then I was happy, energized and optimistic.
One of the cheaper and yet wonderful toys I like is the Magic Slate. It had been around since I was a kid and still is.
There is indeed magic that a clean slate brings to every person and I wish to share some related points that could help us accomplish our goals for the year:
1. The immaculate image of a white canvas brings hope.
If we know that we are starting fresh, with no specs of wrong doings, we tend to be optimistic and are able to summon the best in us. This is why we start the year hopeful, because we have not done anything wrong yet. We’re given a clean slate, as if receiving a blanket forgiveness for all our shortcomings in the past. So let’s take advantage of this image of a clean slate to muster all our energy and optimism to forge ahead and do what we have to do.
2. Novelty has a power to create new habits.
When one is in a new chapter in life, whether positive (promotion, new home, newly-wed, etc.) or negative (break-up, lost a job, a household helper or a loved one, etc.), it is easier to develop a new habit. A family who got rid of the driver and has to find ways to bring the son to school may be a blessing in disguise. On the days the mom has to bring him to school, she can finally go to the gym early morning. On the dad’s days, he can now have a regular one-on-one conversation with his son at least twice a week. So the next time we’re pushed out of our comfortable routines, find ways to create a habit that’s beneficial.
3. Weaning from an old habit is helped by the concept of a clean slate.
For parents of younger kids, weaning their children from the bottle and the matrimonial bed are quite a challenge. In our experience it was best to make an “event” out of these. Weaning should not be perceived as a loss or a detachment from something but more as a passage. So it was important for us to “package” those events as stages. The weaning was then associated with an accomplishment of a certain stage making them ready for the next stage. For bottle-feeding, it was before they entered pre-school (2.5 to 3 years old). For sleeping in their own bed/room, it was when we finally built our house. From a small 2-bedroom apartment, it was easier to make the transition because everyone was excited to now have a bigger own Our oldest was 4.5 and second was less than 2. Our third had not been conceived. He also moved in with his brothers at age two.
4. Keep your “clean record” clean.
There is a surge in the number of gym goers at the start of the year. Exercise is probably in everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions. Then there is a drop in attendance after a couple of months, and a further drop later on. Why is this so? Because once we’ve put a spec on that “clean record,” it’s easier for us to miss another session, and another and another, until we finally decide to stop it altogether. This is why we have to be very careful in stopping. Since we know that there will always be days when we will miss a session, we have to “trick” ourselves a little. Let’s say we promised to exercise at least three times a week. The moment we miss one day of that MWF schedule, write in your calendar how you intend to make up for that one hour. It can be with a Saturday or extra 30 minutes in your two other days. Once the mind is convinced that our commitment has not yet been broken, it will be easier for us to go on and keep the habit, because we still have that “clean record.”
5. Do not always count on your will power.
In all aspects of life whether in our health, wealth, integrity, we should not always assume that our well-formed will power can be counted on to make the right decisions every single day for us in order to achieve our goals. We have to resort to life hacks that will make it easier for us to always do the right thing. The less decision-making needed, the better. Believe me, the presence of too many choices can be debilitating (“should I save and invest now or maybe later when this and that excuse are already in place?” vs. “I’ll sign up once now so that every payday a percentage of my salary is automatically deducted and invested.”)
On this first workweek of the year, I wish you all an energized and optimistic attitude as we start the year with a clean slate. Let’s get rid of all the negative clutters from the past that burden us and waste our energy. If for any reason, we fail to do the things we set out to do as the days pass, don’t worry too much. Just remember, “Life is like a magic slate. If we make mistakes, all we have to do is lift up that upper sheet and voila! We can start over again.”
Have your best year ever.
Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
Images used from craftycrocodiles.co.uk, fitspur.com, 123f.com, mommyish.com, sunningdaedentalblog.com, alibaba.com, beavoiceartsblog.com, romanpichler.com, ccvresources.com put together to help deliver the message of the article.
This article is also published in PhilStar.com and RaisingPinoyBoys.com.